How I Became a Techie

I didn’t see a computer for the first time as a kid and feel this undeniable attraction to coding or taking it apart to upgrade. No, I became a techie through my first love and that is music.

In honor of #TechiesDay I am writing this post about how I became a techie. It did not happen in the usual route. I didn’t see a computer for the first time as a kid and feel this undeniable attraction to coding or taking it apart to upgrade. No, I became a techie through my first love and that is music.

Some people may not realize that there is a ton of technology in music. Back when electric amplifiers came along, they were very primitive. They didn’t produce much sound and one of the main complaints the Beatles had about performing live was that they couldn’t play loud enough to drown out the screaming girls. (A problem I’ve never had, unfortunately haha). A new field was born, with electronics and the love of fiddling with music gear was the key. The great companies you hear about today: Fender, Marshall, Vox, Peavy, Gibson, they all started out in the same way. Some nerd somewhere was fiddling with music equipment and discovered a way to make it sound better.

My dad grew up during this revolution and he had a great affinity for these things. I still remember the radio he built. It was awesome being able to pull the cover off and see the components. As a musician he was always fiddling with something, trying to get it to quit cutting out or boost the signal.

When I started playing guitar, I found his advice invaluable. In fact, how I became a techie was rebuilding my tube amp with my dad (see picture below). We pulled out the board and completely redid it, resoldering loose connections and replacing some of the potentiometers (pots) for the dials on the front. I took a crappy old amp that I bought for $100 and turned it into a weapon for rock.

howibecameatechnie

Time moved on and those experiences helped me decide to become an Electrical Engineer, just like my father. Even though I would probably be well served to replace this amp, I keep it around as a reminder of the time I spent with my dad working on it and learning the craft.

I learned to love computers and servers, eventually even accepting Software as part of the family. Despite this, it is music and my love for it that made me love technology and become a Techie.

I leave you with the story of one of my favorite Musical Techies of all time: Tom Sholz. He founded the rock band Boston from his basement studio. He got his masters in engineering at MIT and worked at Polaroid. He literally built most of the equipment by hand that was used to create their unique sound and recording their demo EP that got them signed. His story is is amazing and PBS did a great series on him on their website if you’re interested.

Here is one of my favorite songs of this epic first album of theirs.

Happy #TechiesDay everyone!

D

 

 

Road Trip: Part 1

I looked back to my son and asked him “Are you ready to rock?”  Yes, Daddy!!  And so it begins. Rolling down I-40, heading toward Michigan, my original home, I push in the first CD and hit play….

70’s Classic Rock – Original Masters

OK, so I cheated. The first album does not actually start with an A, it starts with the character “7”, which technically is before A. It was one of those albums you get for $4.99 from a bin at the grocery store, I bought it about 10 years ago. Here’s a picture of the cover:

70s rock

Despite being in the bargain bin, it’s actually a great album. Here are the highlights:

Boston – More Than a Feeling

What an awesome way to start off an album. I took a Pro Tools music recording class several years ago and we got the original tracks from the studio recording and our class project was to re-EQ this song using today’s production tools. Despite our best efforts, all we could think to do was add a little more low end to the bass drum and extend a few of the vocal sections, adding some reverb on the tails. That’s it, everything else was perfect. What a great recording.

Free – Alright Now

The opening chords to this song are excellent. Just so confident and in your face. And the groove is so good. Love the bass line in this song. My music production ear just LOVES the way they mix in what I think is a wood block along with the percussion sounds. It was mixed in there so tastefully. Usually cowbell/wood block just bleeds all over the mix, but this one is placed in the song perfectly. Listen for it, you won’t be able to un-hear it:

Doobie Brothers – China Grove

A sleepy little town, just outside San Antone. I lived in Austin, TX for 12 years and saw the sign for China Grove every time I drove down to San Antonio for something. Yes, it’s a real place. One of my only regrets about living down there was that I never took the 15 minutes to pull off the road and get a picture of myself by the sign. Probably wouldn’t have been as cool as I imagine, but I love little bits of rock history like that.

Thanks for listening. AC/DC was next on our road trip and I will cover that in my next post, Road Trip: Part 2.